Augmented Reality and the Arts: The Pokemon Challenge

Pokemon Shows Up

I’m hoping by now you have heard of the location-based augmented reality game called ‘Pokemon Go’ by Niantic Inc.. Or maybe you have seen the hoards of people out in the streets looking at their phones, chasing and capturing virtual creatures. This type of game is a quick step link in the chain of things to come and though you may have scoffed at it, nearly run over players (hopefully not) or been completely oblivious to the phenomenon around you, there can be a place for the Artist in this new world and there only barrier is…oops, there aren’t any!

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 11.08.37 AM

                    Photo by

As I sat back and flipped through image after image of Vancouver of people stopped and sitting and standing in groups all looking down at there phones, I didn’t realize the connection they could have to me and my work until I came upon a Facebook thread post by author (The Power of Starting Something Stupid ) and speaker Richie Norton. Richie and friends were discussing the marketing possibilities of the game and the potential of things to come. Discussions included ideas of sending ‘food trucks out to where the people were playing’ for example, or giving discounts or special offers to people who came into local restaurants, and I asked how could I as an Artist drive traffic to my online gallery shops or even to my live events?

One person suggested ‘dropping a ‘lure” and then going and handing out flyers pointing to my web store with a discount code. At this point my mind started reeling, and afterwards I contacted a few local groups letting them know about the possibilities that the game brought. (All of this was prior to Pokemon Go even being released in Canada!).

Within days there was a Pokestop at the Gallery, where a ‘lure‘ could be dropped at my Gallery Exhibit, hopefully helping to drive people to the location, with the ultimate goal of increased interaction between people and my exhibit.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 11.10.23 AM

Soon I noticed photos like these signs began popping up in front of places around town as people began to understand the opportunities connected with the game. Read the full story here.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 12.33.53 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 12.34.34 PM

Pokemon Live Shots by Artist Harmony Chaplin.

Now barely two weeks later (here in Canada), people are beginning to see the value attached to the play and many are jumping in and connecting the dots. Even larger venues like The Vancouver Aquarium have come on board.

For some professional artists the transition to the Internet and the world of web galleries, sales and opportunities is still new territory (Have you read my ‘how to’ book on making that transition? ), and augmented reality may seem like another world entirely, but it is the future and there is a huge wide world full of people waiting to see your art!

(And our phones are one thing, but not far off there will be an even cooler way to connect! Imagine a patron touring a gallery looking at your work, he slips on a pair of glasses and viola, there you are, a perfect hologram walking around with him talking about your work. We are almost there and Meron Gribetz at TED Vancouver (Feb /16) thinks we’re just 5 short years away!)

Ok, so you may be asking, ‘but what can I do right now?’. Some suggestions include: downloading Pokemon Go (it’s free) and checking it out yourself or you could hook up with somebody who’s playing it. You could Google Pokemon maps for your area this will show you where the Pokestops and Pokegyms are (where people will be congregating to play the game), or there are actually specific secondary apps for finding Pokemon (But these may not last – read FORBES today).

You could look up events in your town, or elsewhere, where you could go in person and connect/display/and/or sell, why not offer incentive to players at your next opening or sale or make your own event! And/or you can join online/offline groups to brainstorm the possibilities, or find me online and let’s chat!

But whatever you do, let’s keep this conversation active, we can all benefit from sharing!